An Open Letter from Director-General Shin

The Central Weather Bureau (CWB) is concerned with both meteorological and seismic phenomena and their mechanisms. The missions of the CWB include observations, forecasts and warnings. They not only closely affect people's daily life, but also contribute critically to the government's disaster prevention programs. In addition to being the operations agency for monitoring weather, marine, and seismic conditions, the CWB also has the responsibility to initiate research and development of related science and technology in order to continuously improve its services. The effectiveness of the CWB in serving the society depends on the extent to which the information it provides will actually be used. Therefore, one of the CWB's top priorities is to become well attuned to the social changing needs.

The CWB improves its operational efficacy in related facilities and technologies through gradual completion of medium- to large-scale programs. For example, the build up of the "Hazardous Meteorological Monitoring and Forecasting Systems" program is one of the CWB's key projects that are being undertaken. The two-year project of "Developing an Hourly Weather Forecast System for Individual Townships" is aimed at the temporal and spatial refinement of weather forecasting. The "Reconstruction and Enrichment of Automated Rainfall Recording and Reporting Network of Western Taiwan", the renewal of the "Satellite Data Receiving and Processing" programs, the construction of the "Marine Meteorological Information Gathering e-Service System" and the improvements in the precision of its observation and forecasting, as well as the "Southwest Monsoon Experiment" projects, all continue to fulfill the goal of modernizing meteorological observation and forecasting systems. In earthquake monitoring, the CWB is stepping up the full operation of the "Earthquake Early Warning System," as well as speeding up its cooperation with the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction (NCDR), in order to promote public awareness of earthquake alerts. In addition, the CWB is carrying out the "Marinecable-based Ocean-Floor Seismic Observatory" project off eastern Taiwan, and actively planning the next-generation of seismic monitoring network.

Providing public service starts with the CWB issuing weather reports and forecasts. For scientists and technologists, the service simply means offering scientific findings and technological products. In reality, however, a weather report full of professional jargons is difficult for the public to understand. Information dissimilation and public education are areas in which the CWB need to improve. Attached below is the message addressed to the CWB staff at my inauguration on June 3, 2009, which I would like to share with you.

Some reflections on the CWB's Vision

My colleagues at the CWB, greetings!

The CWB delivers meteorological products and services on schedule, regardless of what has been happening in the society. This is a responsibility expected from us by the public. However, the requirements of the society change continuously. If the CWB cannot keep up with the society's progress and needs, all its efforts would become irrelevant; eventually it could even be at risk of being eliminated.

Weather forecasting is no doubt a very complex endeavor. The CWB has been dedicating itself to scientific and technological breakthroughs in order to improve its precision in forecasting. We should keep in mind, however, that any products and services we provide must be usable by our customers. Weather forecasting is a social service which requires "brand confidence and loyalty" that can only be gained from the customers' satisfaction. In the past years, the CWB has spent a great deal of effort and resources pursuing scientific and technological advancements. However, public responses to our efforts have not been all positive. Such dissatisfaction indicates that something else has not received enough attention, and we need to take a broader view on our future goals.

"Vision" is the primary blueprint and impetus for the advancement of individuals and organizations. Vision could change with time, modified by subjective and objective conditions. The CWB has not had a forum for us to discuss our vision. Although we have always aimed at pursuing more accurate weather forecasts, when faced with public complaints, we tend to hide behind the argument that weather forecasting is a very complex task that will always involve some uncertainties. Such an evasive response is not good enough for the public. The CWB is the only government agency committed to meteorological service. It must be keenly aware of the public needs and set its goals in stages accordingly. We have neglected the essence of service that should be customer-oriented.

In addition to continuously working on improving the timeliness and accuracy of our forecasts, I have two aspirations for the CWB for your reference and comments. They are: "supplying disaster relief agencies with proper and accurate information", and "helping the general public get into the habit of watching the CWB's reports." To achieve these goals, we need to listen to the public's comments about our services attentively, and try to improve accordingly. The result of such positive interactions could be the supportive public that will understand better what the CWB has been doing, what are our capabilities, as well as current limitations in science and technology. By reading the CWB weather news in such a relationship, the public will be able to give more constructive criticisms and make more reasonable requests of our products and services.

A few years ago, a CWB section chief, Mr. Chiang, proposed a set of mottos for the CWB's strategic plan. They are: "Refinement of the Forecasting," "Modernization of the Observation Systems," and "Diversification of the Services." These mottos still apply today, but they can be adjusted to better meet the social needs. To stress the consideration for current public needs, I would suggest the following modifications: "Refinement and Practicality of Weather Predictions," "Modernization and Disaster-Prevention of the Observation Systems," and "Diversification and Colloquial Delivery of the Services." As to how to carry out these mottos, I hope we can reach consensus through open discussions. Last but not least, I must remind everyone that the CWB belongs to all of us. Only through common goals and joint efforts can the achievements of the CWB reach a higher level.

Tzay-Chyn Shin